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'Get tough on killer drivers' call

Fri, 21 Mar 2014

DRIVERS who cause death on the roads should be jailed for at least five years, according to the majority of motorists.

Eighty-two per cent reckon sentences should be higher for those drivers who kill, a survey by road safety charity Brake and insurance company Direct Line found.

Brake said the latest Government figures showed 62% of those convicted of killing someone through risky driving were jailed and only 9% got sentences of five years or more.

The survey of 1,000 drivers showed:

:: 82% thought sentences should be higher for drivers who kill;

:: 81% reckoned if you kill or seriously injure someone when taking any kind of illegal risk at the wheel, you should be considered "dangerous" not "careless" in the eyes of the law;

:: 85% said drivers who kill while they were drink or drug-driving (85%) should get five years or more in prison, while 66% supported such sentences for those who caused a death through speeding, with 64% saying the same about those who kill while on their phone;

:: 95% thought penalties should be tougher for killer drivers who flee the scene.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: "We want the Government to acknowledge how inadequate current charges and penalties are and take action to prevent traumatised families suffering further insult.

"Denying justice to victim families often has a terrible impact on their ability to rebuild and move forward with their lives.

"Brake bears witness to the consequences for these vulnerable families every day through its support services for bereaved and injured crash victims. Our justice system should make clear that risky, illegal behaviour on roads is no accident: it's selfish, destructive, and unacceptable."

Direct Line's motor director Rob Miles said: "Ensuring that dangerous drivers receive appropriate convictions and sentences for their actions will help to improve safety on the roads for all road users."

Those convicted of causing death by dangerous driving can face up to 14 years in jail and are disqualified from driving for a minimum of two years.

Causing death by dangerous or inconsiderate driving carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, with the driver being disqualified for a minimum of one year.

Releasing the survey today, Brake cited various cases.

In one, a 14-year-old girl from south east London was killed when a speeding driver hit her in a 30mph zone.

He was uninsured and had been smoking cannabis but was jailed for just four months after being charged with careless driving and was released after eight weeks.

In another incident, a 20-year-old man from the West Midlands died in a hit-and-run. The driver waited until the next afternoon to hand himself in to police and was given a 16-week sentence for failing to stop and report the crash.

A third case cited by Brake involved a 53-year-old man from Gloucester who was killed while walking near his home by a disqualified motorcyclist with a string of previous convictions. He was sentenced to 18 months.

By Peter Woodman, Press Association